Open slather for Old Trafford team selection
AFTER last week's thumping 347-run defeat in the second Ashes Test at Lord's Australia coach Darren Lehmann said anyone in the 18-man squad in England could be chosen to play in the third Test at Old Trafford starting on Thursday.
"I'm not ruling any of them out," he said.
"That's what happens when you have two losses."
Several players had the chance to audition for a spot in the starting XI in the three-day game against Sussex that finished in Hove overnight, and some did better than others.
Back-up wicketkeeper/batsman Matthew Wade, for example, fluffed his lines, getting out for nought after being touted as a possible specialist batsman in the third Test.
Prior to the match, the Victorian had talked up his chances.
"It's a huge opportunity for everyone who's not had a game," Wade had said. "Any batsman who goes out and dominates and gets 150 or 200 will have a chance to play."
While Steve Smith (102 not out) and Phil Hughes (84) were the standouts in Australia's first innings, it was in South Africa where the big scores Wade talked about were posted.
Glenn Maxwell notched up 155 not out for Australia A, but the biggest tally came from David Warner who did his chances of a recall no harm by belting 193 in a four-day game against South Africa A that ended in a draw in Pretoria.
The fiery left-hander will fly out of Johannesburg, however, with his on-field exploits again being overshadowed by more bad behaviour.
In his second innings he twice featured in mid-pitch stoushes with South Africa A wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, with the umpires reportedly needing to separate the pair.
Warner played down the incidents afterwards, tweeting: "Great to be back playing cricket, had lots of fun this week and a bit of friendly banter from the wicket keeper. Was very funny!!"
Cricket Australia may not see the funny side, although a CA spokesman said match officials had not made a report about the matter.
Spinner Nathan Lyon, too, did not help his selection chances after he failed to nab a wicket on the first day of Sussex's first innings, returning figures of 0-65 off 18 overs which included a belting at the hands of Rory Hamilton-Brown.
Paceman Jackson Bird fared better in his Ashes audition, taking 2-33 in 14 overs, while he also had England's Ashes aspirant James Taylor dropped on 23 before he went on to score 64 not out on day two.
At this stage it will be anyone's guess who takes the field when the Ashes go on the line at Old Trafford.